Mitch McConnell

Mitch McConnell

Credentials

  • B.A., Political Science, University of Louisville College of Arts and Sciences. [1]
  • University of Kentucky College Of Law. [1]

Background

Mitch McConnell is the Republican senior Senator for Kentucky, having first been elected in 1984. McConnell has been the Senate Majority Leader since 2015, having served as Minority Leader from 2007. [2], [3]

After graduating from the University of Kentucky College of Law, McConnell worked as an intern for John Sherman Cooper and as chief legislative assistant to Marlow Cook, both Republican Senators for Kentucky. He later served as a Deputy Assistant Attorney General during the administration of President Gerald Ford. Before his election as Senator, McConnell was judge-executive of Jefferson County, Kentucky. [2]

McConnell currently sits on the following Senate Committees: Agriculture, Nutrition And Forestry; Appropriations; Rules & Administration.

He is married to Elaine L. Chao, U.S. Secretary of Transportation and former Secretary of Labor under President George W. Bush. [4], [2]

McConnell has consistently cast doubt on climate science and opposed action to reduce emissions.

In 2017, he was one of 22 Republican Senators who signed a letter, coordinated by James Inhofe, to President Trump urging him to withdraw from the Paris Agreement on climate change. Analysis by The Guardian and the Center for Responsive Politics found that the group had collectively received over $10m from the fossil fuel industry over the previous three election cycles, with McConnell receiving more than $1.5m. In the 2018 election cycle, McConnell received $100,150 in donations from Alliance Resource Partners, an Oklahoma-based coal company. [5], [6], [7]

During the Obama administration, McConnell withheld Republican support for major presidential initiatives, making extensive use of the filibuster and blocking the majority of Obama's judicial nominees. [14], [15]

Koch Ties

McConnell has close ties to the billionaire Koch brothers, having spoken at conferences organised by their political network. In a leaked audio recording from 2014, McConnell revealed plans to a meeting of Koch-allied donors, saying that if the Republicans gained control of Congress, they could use the budget process to force the president to roll back his priorities.

McConnell said: “We’re going to go after them on health care, on financial services, on the Environmental Protection Agency, across the board.” He told the Kochs: “I don’t know where we’d be without you.”  Other Republican figures including Tom Cotton, Cory Gardner and Joni Ernst were also present and praised the Kochs for their funding of Republican candidates' campaigns. [8], [9]

According to data obtained by the Center for Responsive Politics, McConnell has received $86,350 directly from Koch Industries since 2008. [10]

Positions

On his Senate-hosted website, McConnell states: “We need to both find more energy and use less. Every source of energy should be considered, especially coal, which remains a vital source of energy for Kentucky.” [11]

In 2014, McConnell said that approving the controversial Keystone XL oil pipeline would be Republican Senators' top priority and in 2016 claimed that Obama had “sat on the Keystone pipeline throughout his entire eight years, even though his own State Department said it had no measurable impact on climate.” [12]

McConnell has played a leading role in opposing stricter campaign finance laws in the U.S. political system, challenging the McCain-Feingold Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act in the Supreme Court in 2003 on the basis that it allegedly infringed on First Amendment rights. [13]

In the 2016 Republican primaries, McConnell initially backed fellow Kentucky Senator Rand Paul, before switching his support for Donald Trump. [16], [17]

Stance on Climate Change

October 2, 2014

In an interview with the Cincinnati Enquirer, McConnell said: [5]

“We can debate this forever. George Will had a column in the last year or so pointing out that in the 70s, we were concerned the ice age was coming. I'm not a scientist. I’m interested in protecting Kentucky’s economy.” [5]

Key Quotes

August 21, 2018

In a press release on his website relating to former President Obama's Clean Power Plan, McConnell stated: [18]

“The Obama Administration’s so-called ‘Clean Power Plan’ offered a typical story from that era. An innocent-seeming name. A pleasant-sounding objective. But underneath, an intrusive regulatory regime – built not on effective policy, but on far-left ideology. That’s why I am so grateful that, today, the Trump Administration is unveiling its plan to pare back this unfair, unworkable, and likely illegal policy.”

“This so-called ‘Clean Power Plan’ they dreamed up would’ve had no meaningful effect on global emissions. It would, however, have packed up middle-class American jobs and sent them overseas. It would have piled a heavier burden onto the most vulnerable families. Lower-income Americans are hit the hardest when energy costs take off. And this plan was projected to yield double-digit percentage increases in electricity costs in 40 states, including Kentucky. Unfair. Ineffective. Unaffordable. More than likely illegal. That’s quite the pedigree.” [18]

November 11, 2016

McConnell told a news conference in Louisville, Kentucky: [19]

“One thing I do hope he’ll [President Trump] do, that I recommended yesterday that won’t surprise any of you, and that is approve the Keystone pipeline.”

The president sat on the Keystone pipeline throughout his entire eight years, even though his own State Department said it had no measurable impact on climate.” [19]

Key Deeds

July 31, 2018

McConnell was called a “sellout” by pro-Trump conspiracy theorist and Fox News presenter Lou Dobbs for downplaying the urgency of building a southern border wall, saying that funding for the wall would “probably” not happen before the midterm elections. Dobbs said that McConnell's message to the American people was that the Republican Party would “do exactly” what billionaire donors Charles and David Koch want. [20]

November 11, 2016

McConnell called on Trump to approve the controversial Keystone XL oil pipeline, claiming that Obama had “sat on the Keystone pipeline throughout his entire eight years, even though his own State Department said it had no measurable impact on climate.” [19]

March 2015

McConnell wrote to every state governor urging them to refuse to carry out climate change regulations introduced under President Obama's Clean Power Plan. [21]

August 25, 2014

McConnell's campaign reported paying for catering for a meeting at the offices of Freedom Partners Chamber of Commerce in Virginia, which has been described by Politico as the “Koch brothers' secret bank.” Its affiliated super PAC, Freedom Partners Action Fund, was reported by the Huffington Post to have spent nearly $16 million supporting Republican candidates in key seats. [22], [9]

June 15, 2014

In a leaked audio recording, McConnell revealed plans to a meeting of Koch-allied donors, saying that if the Republicans gained control of Congress, they could use the budget process to force the president to roll back his priorities: “In the House and Senate, we own the budget… So what does that mean? That means that we can pass the spending bill. And I assure you that in the spending bill, we will be pushing back against this bureaucracy by doing what’s called placing riders in the bill. No money can be spent to do this or to do that. We’re going to go after them on health care, on financial services, on the Environmental Protection Agency, across the board. All across the federal government, we’re going to go after it.” [8]

Other Republican figures including Tom Cotton, Cory Gardner and Joni Ernst were also present and praised the Kochs for their funding of Republican candidates' campaigns. [8]

Affiliations

Social Media

Publications

Resources

  1. Mitch McConnell,” University of Louisville College of Arts and Sciences. Archived June 4, 2019. Archive.fo URLhttp://archive.fo/Eeeew

  2. Mitch McConnell: Biography,” Senate.gov. Archived June 4, 2019. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog.

  3. Majority and Minority Leaders,” United States Senate. Archived June 4, 2019. Archive.fo URLhttp://archive.fo/874Pv

  4. Mitch McConnell: 116th Congress Committees,” Senate.gov. Archived June 4, 2019. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog.

  5. Scott Wartman. “McConnell talks Brent Spence, heroin, Ebola,” Cincinnati Enquirer, October 2, 2014. Archived June 5, 2019. Archive.fo URLhttp://archive.fo/zBSoO

  6. Tom McCarthy, Lauren Gambino. “The Republicans who urged Trump to pull out of Paris deal are big oil darlings,” The Guardian, June 1, 2017. Archived June 5, 2019. Archive.fo URL: http://archive.fo/Z7Cx8

  7. Mitch McConnell,” Center for Responsive Politics. Archived June 5, 2019. Archive.fo URLhttp://archive.fo/RtBoe

  8. Jonathan Weisman. “In Audio From a Koch Event, McConnell Envisions Undoing Obama Initiatives,” New York Times, August 27, 2014. Archived June 5, 2019. Archive.fo URL: http://archive.fo/5L8tA

  9. Paul Blumenthal. “Mitch McConnell Paid For Koch Group Meeting Shortly Before Blitz Of Pro-GOP Senate Ads,” Huffington Post, October 30, 2014. Archived June 5, 2019. Archive.fo URLhttp://archive.fo/QpaUr

  10. Koch Industries,” Center for Responsive Politics. Archived June 5, 2019. Archive.fo URLhttp://archive.fo/wRziw

  11. Mitch McConnell: Issues,” Senate.gov. Archived June 5, 2019. Archive.fo URLhttp://archive.fo/zGPgf

  12. Elana Schor and Burgess Everett. “McConnell: Keystone will be GOP Senate's first move,” Politico, December 16, 2014. Archived June 5, 2019. Archive.fo URLhttp://archive.fo/ItkdM

  13. Ryan Devereaux. “Citizens United: how the US election campaign finance rules evolved,” The Guardian, January 20, 2012. Archived June 4, 2019. Archive.fo URLhttp://archive.fo/w3K9g

  14. Alexander Sammon. “Democratic Candidates Need to Call to Abolish the Filibuster,” Pacific Standard, March 8, 2019. Archived June 4, 2019. Archive.fo URLhttp://archive.fo/3kyrE

  15. Alison Durkee. “Merrick Who? McConnell Says He’d Totally Fill Another SCOTUS Seat in 2020,” Vanity Fair, May 28, 2019. Archived June 5, 2019. Archive.fo URLhttp://archive.fo/ksluJ

  16. Steven Nelson. “Who Still Stands With Rand?US News, June 1, 2015. Archived June 5, 2019. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog.

  17. Manu Raju, Ted Barrett, Tom LoBianco. “Citing swing-state polling, McConnell shows confidence in Trump,” CNN, May 10, 2016. Archived June 5, 2019. Archive.fo URLhttp://archive.fo/9Rt64

  18. McConnell on the Affordable Clean Energy Rule,” Senate.gov. Archived June 5, 2019. Archive.fo URLhttp://archive.fo/lavXY

  19. Timothy Cama. “McConnell asks Trump to approve Keystone pipeline,” The Hill, November 11, 2016. Archived June 5, 2019. Archive.fo URLhttp://archive.fo/Jssih

  20. Lou Dobbs: McConnell & GOP Are 'Sellouts' to Koch Brothers, Will Blame Trump for 2018 Losses,” Fox Insider, July 31, 2018. Archived June 5, 2019. Archive.fo URL: http://archive.fo/Y4eHU

  21. Coral Davenport. “Republican Governors Signal Their Intent to Thwart Obama’s Climate Rules,” New York Times, July 2, 2015. Archived June 5, 2019. Archive.fo URLhttp://archive.fo/oqYNG

  22. Mike Allen, Jim Vandehei. “The Koch brothers' secret bank,” Politico, September 11, 2013. Archived May 29, 2019. Archive.fo URLhttp://archive.fo/zSIg4

Other Resources

Photo credit: Gage Skidmore/Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0